Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Vacation 2013

New York City

Our vacation to the back east always include trips to New York City. Growing up in Brooklyn  for 16 years after migrating to the US at the age of 12 from the Philippines, I consider New York to be my second home. Yes, I may not be a native New Yorker, but this is where I grew up and had the most time spent of my life than any other places I have been.

It was raining on our first visit to New York City. We were debating whether to go or not that morning due to the weather and my eldest said " let's just go." So we, did. We walked the streets of chinatown to go to our favorite chinese restaurant called " Joe Shanghai ". If ever you are in New York City, this is a place to eat. Here, you will find the most succulent soup dumplings you will ever have. It is a family style restaurant where dishes are big enough to share. Their soup dumplings are what they are known for. I love eating these dumplings because they are so delicious. There's certain ritual to eating them. First you have to carefully take them out of the steamer with a tong and place it on your soup spoon.  Then you take a very tiny bite onto the skin to make a hole. As soon as you do this, you take the dumpling with a chopstick pour the soup into the soup spoon and slowly drink the soup. After you do this, you place the dumpling back onto the soup spoon put the dumpling sauce with ginger on it and carefully bite the dumpling. Yum! Craving satisfied! Sounds complicated just to eat a dumpling? Not really, it is worth doing the above and then finally eating it is heaven. My boys loved it.

I got another chance to visit New York when my boys and husband went camping for 10 days in North Maine Woods - a tradition every summer meant for the boys only on my husband side of the family. They had their camping and I had my version of camping when they left. After staying with my parents for a few more days after the boys left, I stayed in Manhattan for 2 days on my own. I stayed at the Paramount Hotel located in Time Square. My room was small, but good enough space for me.  I checked in and I started my quest. My plan was to walk everywhere like I used to when lived here. I could walk forever and not noticed the distance I've walked. I wanted to do that again. After my train ride from NJ to NYC, I was craving to eat Pad Thai. I found this tiny restaurant in 51st and 9th Avenue called PURE thai cookhouse. It got good reviews on Yelp. My verdict:  5 star.  The place is small which I didn't expect. But, this is not a negative statement. The place was great and the service was good. It was a very busy joint. I had the chicken curry puffs (like little empanadas) and Pad Thai. Both were very satisfying.

With my belly filled, I started to head back to Time Square to check out discounted broadway shows at TKTS. I waited in line and got a discounted ticket for Rock of Ages broadway show. The ticket was 50% at the time for same day show.
                                                   while waiting in line for Broadway show ticket

What a fun show. Brings back good old 80's rock music.  I totally loved it. After the show, I went across the street and got some Juniors cheesecake. A place known for their cheesecake. I believe their first store was in Flatbush in Brooklyn.

My second day in Manhattan, i spent my day walking all day. Started at 8:30 am - I ventured out to walk the high line park of NYC. This was an old rail road meant for freight cargos in the past. They were going to tear it down, but decided to keep it because nature started to grow on the rails ( i believe). The city decided to keep it, make it functional and made it into a park. It started to on 10th Ave. and 30th street and ends at the West village.   It was a good 20 minute walk which wasn't bad. On your journey here you will find lots and lots of vegetation that is kept up by volunteer workers. Benches along the sides to sit on for rest, eating,  people watch or enjoy the scenery of the Hudson River (where you can).

this is a must place to visit if you are in NYC

I was on the on an adventure to find a store, but got lost in West village (first time ever getting lost in city, but never really travelled the West end of the village even when I lived in NY - anyway) and was unsuccessful. I didn't plan that very well. I got my bearings in the village and got to a familiar place and started heading to Broadway and walked my way down to chinatown. After a few sight seeing and purchasing a purse, I was scheduled to be in midtown to have lunch with friends. This was the one time I took the subway.  Met with friends, ate and headed back to time square and looked at the discounted tickets for Broadway show that night. Lucky me, Phantom of the Opera was 50% off!  My friend and I saw the show that night and had a good time. I have always wanted to see this show and glad that I finally had the chance to.

After the show, I hanged out a little bit at time square and had another beef patty for the last time. That day, I was walking Manhattan from 8:30am to 11 pm ----What fun!
 Time Square
 As I was sitting in the middle of Time Square this day, observing the hustle and bustle of NYC, I realized that I was a tourist where I was from. I realized that I took all these for granted when I was leaving there - just always focused on getting from point A to point B. I was glad that I had this time to appreciate it and I think that everyone should experience New York City.

Next stop - Sterling Massachusettes

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer Vacation 2013


It has been a while since my family had gone back home. New York city and Massachusetts have been my home and my husband's.  Lets not forget New Jersey where my parents now live and where we stay when we come home to visit. My children (2 young boys) have been excited to do this trip to see grandparents , cousins and ride on the plane.

Speaking of the plane ride, my son who is six gave so many different facial expression of excitement as the plane started to ascend. My eldest had butterflies in his stomach :)  As we reached our destination at around 5:30 in the morning, the sky was just turning light. My little one woke from his sleep and looked out the window. The plane was soaring on top of the puffy, thick white clouds. What a beautiful view. Nothing, but whiteness of the clouds and the blue sky. It was pure and clean. I woke up my eldest son so that he, too, can look and witness this beautiful moment.

The plane landed safely. We got our bags and headed to rent a car to see my side of the family. As we arrived at my parents' house, hugs and kisses filled the room. My parents happy as can be when they saw their grandchildren once again. My little one, a non-stop talker, chatted away with his grandfather. Whether they actually understood each other, I don't know. A six year old who can tell his stories, most of the time in fragments,  and a hard of hearing grandfather.....well, it can get too funny.

A visit to Brooklyn, NY was a must. My husband and I have not been back to Brooklyn since 2001. We wanted to show the kids where I grew up  and where my husband and I lived. We visited several neighborhoods, all which looked the same as before.  Not much has changed. Sunset Park neighborhood on 5th ave, Brooklyn was one of our stop. This was our old neighborhood.  5th Ave, in Brooklyn is a busy, alive neighborhood filled with stores, street vendors and most of all filled with Spanish music (from 60th to about 40th street). Many people lingered the streets holding shopping bags; happy with their latest purchases.

                                                 The Verrazano Bridge going into Brooklyn

So, I had to have a beef patty. I haven't had this in years since we left the east coast and I was excited to have one. You would normally find these delicious, tasty beef patties in New York pizzerias.  It has yellow/brownish crust on the outside and a spicy mush beef on the inside. It doesn't  sound appetizing, but it is very good.  Once I had it, craving satisfied! The Italian ice were the next on our menu. Also, found in pizzerias in NY. One way to cool off from the hot humidity of New York city is having these delicious, cold Italian ice ( sorry there is no picture. I had trouble downloading it). They have cherry, rainbow and I can't remember the flavor of the white one. My favorite is the rainbow flavor.  These were a hit to my kids as I had expected. Last on our stop for foods were the Mexican panaderia. This is a Mexican bakery where they make Mexican pastries good for breakfast, snack or dessert. We went to the place where we used to go.  A narrow bakery filled with pastries. Trays and trays of pastries where you yourself pick out the ones you like with a tong on one hand and a tray on the other. Yummy in your tummy.

Next on our agenda while in Brooklyn -- visit the Barcklays Center - home of the Brooklyn Nets. My kids are a big basketball fans, so we thought it would be a good time to visit the arena.  As we drove into the area of Atlantic Ave in the Flatbush area bordering park slope area ( i think) of Brooklyn, my husband and I were amazed on how they transformed this area and put the the arena where it is.  As we turned to Atlantic Ave, coming from 4th Ave of Brooklyn and saw the arena, all I can say was --WOW!   My kids were excited. It was their first visit to any NBA arena.
The Barclays Center - Brooklyn Nets Arena

Unfortunately, we could only visit the gift shop and not the arena itself.  The arena was closed. But, the kids had a good time and that's all that mattered.

Our last stop was to eat at a Malaysian restaurant called JAVA in Prospect Park area of Brooklyn. My husband and I used to frequent this place when were living in Brooklyn and would always come out with filled bellies.  If you are adventurous with the kind of foods you eat,  I highly recommend this place if you are ever in Brooklyn. We were glad that this place is still standing despite the competitiveness in this area when it comes to restaurants. The dishes were still great, satisfying and my kids enjoyed them.

We got a lot of things accomplished in one day in Brooklyn.  On the way home, my eldest said "you have a lot of stories here".  We were glad to share these moments with our kids and share my husband's and I's past which was there current moment at the time.

There's is more to come from our vacation that I will be sharing with you. So stay tune - next stop -- New York City.